The winter Sunday was in its latter half. With a light fog enveloping Asker in Norway, the fading daylight was falling on a little garden which the recent spate of snowfall had converted into a quaint little skating rink. Some children were honing their skating skills under the watchful but indulgent eyes of their parents. The air was fresh with a whiff of ozone, imbued with a chilly sharpness so very characteristic of Nordic winters.
From Facebook to Face-to-Face
In a cosy corner of Egon, an artistically done up restaurant near the Asker train station, a meeting of some members of the Drones Club was in progress. An Egg, a Bean and a Crumpet could be seen happily chatting with each other.
Introductions and exchange of pleasantries had got over. The conversation had already covered such wide-ranging topics as genealogy, the open-ended social milieu of Norway, the economic challenges being faced owing to the dip in oil fortunes and the state-of-art infrastructure of the country. Concern had been expressed about the global challenge of maintaining harmony and peace in these troubled times. The relevance of the Code of the Woosters to usher in a phase of sustainable peace had been discussed.
A dash of patriotism
The Egg and the Bean spoke of the National Day of Norway, which is celebrated with much gaiety and fervour on the 17th of May every year. The Constitution of Norway was signed on this day in the year 1814. The constitution declared Norway to be an independent kingdom in an attempt to avoid being ceded to Sweden after Denmark–Norway’s devastating defeat in the Napoleonic Wars. All residents come out in their respective national dresses and participate in a parade. The King and the Queen are an integral part of the proceedings.
The Crumpet shared the details of the Indian Republic Day which honours the date on which the Constitution of India came into force on 26 January 1950. The military might of the country is on full display in a parade which marches down an important thoroughfare of the capital city New Delhi. So is the social diversity which gets covered in several colourful tableaux which form a part of the parade.
The Egg and the Bean touched upon their exploits in the Norwegian military in their younger days. The Crumpet was delighted to know that the delicately nurtured had equal opportunity to join those of the so-called sterner sex in guarding the national frontiers of Norway. The Egg and the Bean were also happy to be informed that the Indian armed forces follow a similar policy.
The Drones who sought Leave of Absence
The audience would surely be wondering by now as to why there were only three members present and where the other members were. Well, a Whisky and Soda had already explained that he would be on the road attending to a critical chore which was essential to keep his body and soul together. A Pieface could not join in because he was confined to bed and was trying to nurse a viral infection with one of Jeeves’ pick-me-ups.
A Gin and Tonic had not responded, apparently because she was busy somewhere on the slopes of Galdhopiggen, tending to some injury of Pauline Stoker’s suffered by her during a skiing adventure. A Couch Potato had also not responded to the overtures, possibly owing to a lack of expertise in throwing darts, should a competition got organized.
An intellectual cove, who is one of the forty odd literarily gifted persons having had the distinction of translating Plum’s work into the Norwegian language, was discovered just after the meeting. He was said to be busy enjoying the mesmerizing display of Northern Lights somewhere in the Arctic Circle. The loss was entirely that of the members assembled.
Thus, only the Egg, the Bean and the Crumpet had trooped in.
The joy and the pall of gloom
At one stage, the emotions of the three members assembled had almost overpowered them. These called for a ready outlet. They wanted to stand up and announce that a common passion had brought together persons from two countries – Norway and India – which are as different as chalk and cheese. But the ambience of the place restrained them. They wanted to stand on the sturdy table in front of them and sing ‘Sonny Boy’ in unison. But they could not do so because customers would complain. They wanted to shout three cheers in a boisterous fashion, but couldn’t do so. The management would have looked askance and perhaps called in some rozzers eager to augment their incomes on a Sunday evening.
The pall of gloom which such severe restrictions cast on them did not last too long. Miss Postlethwaite, the efficient barmaid, soon popped up. The quiet simplicity of her costume and the devout manner in which she pulled the wine-handle brought in the requisite cheer. Soon, the pot-boy appeared with a steaming hot creamy fish soup which appeared to be coming straight from the stables of Anatole. Nose bags were duly put on and a free-flowing conversation followed.
Of Plummy affairs
The Egg brought up the innumerable qualities of Jeeves, expressing his ardent wish he could get hold of one such gentleman’s gentleman. The Bean admired the woolly headedness of Lord Emsworth and wondered if he did not possess similar qualities. The Crumpet spoke reverentially of the personality traits of independent women like Joan Valentine and Sally. The goofiness of Madeline Bassett got an honourable mention. So did the romantic nature of Mrs. Spottsworth. The Eastern connections of Captain Biggar-Biggar and his own Code of Conduct were fondly recalled.
Lessons of good health espoused by Ashe Marson came in for general praise. Several escapades of Bingo Little and Rosie M. Banks which contribute to the cause of matrimonial harmony were mentioned. The paramount importance of women having their afternoon cup of tea was analysed threadbare. The fact that not many details were available concerning the parents of Bertie Wooster came up for discussion.
An action movie on Master’s works?
Over coffee, the Egg and the Bean mentioned the authors whose work they read. The Crumpet lamented his being at the terminal stage of Wodehousitis, making him incapable of devouring anything else. The general opinion of the group was that if reading Wodehouse is escapism, then all forms of literature and fine arts could also get labelled likewise.
Movies with a Wodehousian sense of humour came up for discussion. The members present wondered if ever an action movie could be based on the works of the Master. It was doubted if any movie moghul would consider sliding down pipes to escape the fury of an aunt interesting enough. Or, for that matter, either the case of a minister facing an angry swan while perched on a roof in the midst of heavy rains, or the burning down of country cottages by conscientious boy scouts.
Spreading the virus of Wodehousitis
The Bean raised the sartorial standard of the meeting by wearing a Drone Club tie which is no longer in circulation. The Egg and the Crumpet are now in the market looking for benevolent souls who might like to donate theirs!
While the deliberations were on, darkness had stealthily enveloped the surroundings. Decorative lights put up by merchants hoping to clear their shelves by offering hefty January Sale discounts were imparting a soft glow to the snow on the streets. It was time to get back to the real world.
The meeting ended with much back-slapping. Hopes were expressed that more such meetings would get planned in future, thereby spreading the virus of Wodehousitis far and wide.
- The intellectual cove who could not be invited: Prof Johan I Borgos. He can be reached at http://www.borgos.nndata.no/Wodehouse.htm
- The members who attended the meeting: Morten Arnesen, Jo Ingebrigt Spalder and Ashok Bhatia.
- Should Jeeves come across this narrative, the members shall have no objection to its contents getting entered in the dreaded book maintained by the Junior Ganymede Club. Prior intimation would, however, be necessary.
- The members deliberately chose not to pass any adverse comments about the several aunts which populate Plumsville. This ensures that Anatole’s services can be sought for future meetings of this nature.